By Olivia Fries-Farr ’19, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Spike Lee may have earned the Grand Prix award at this year’s Cannes Festival for his film “Blackkklansman,” but will this honor turn into an Oscar win for the director? Lee has received many awards for his films, but never an Academy Award. A possible nomination and win could be a huge milestone in his career.
“Blackkklansman” is a true story, directed and produced by Lee, and adapted from a book by Ron Stallworth, with a screenplay co-written by Lee and writers Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott. The film is about an African-American police officer from Colorado, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), who phones members of a local Ku Klux Klan group and successfully infiltrates their operation with the help of fellow police officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver). Zimmerman portraits the role of Stallworth in person and Stallworth maintains the phone conversation at his desk as well as surveillance. In their efforts to expose this KKK hate group, both Stallworth and Zimmerman go against the grain of their own moral principles. Stallworth must pretend he is a racist, homophobic white male who uses profane words about multiple oppressed people, including his own race, when speaking to Klans members. Similarly, Zimmerman is forced to hide his Jewish heritage from the Klan and when he meets with members he says vulgar things about his own people in order to stay undercover.
What really makes “Blackkklansman” stand out is how it compares the issues presented in the film to events happening today. This is especially effective at the end of the film which features actual footage from the recent Charlottesville white supremacist rally and also honors those people who died protesting against the beliefs of the white supremacists.
Movies nominated for Oscars are ones that fully embody the social and cultural aspects of society during the year they were released, as well as films that have a strong story and captivate many audiences. “Blackkklansman” does just that, making it a likely nominee for this year’s Oscar contenders. The only issue, however, is its early release date. Oscar nominees are usually released between late October and early January. Although Lee’s film did not follow this release schedule, the film is completely original and stands out among all other films about racial issues in the 1970s as well as racial tensions present today. With a storyline centered around a police department, the film offers then and now perspectives of law enforcement to compare and contrast.
In my opinion, I think “Blackkklansman” is worthy of winning several Oscars: Spike Lee; Best Director, John David Washington; Best Actor, Adam Driver; Best Supporting Actor, and “Blackkklansman” for Best Picture. It truly reflects the issues surrounding our country by showing its audience how history repeats itself and that we need to make changes in the way our laws treat marginalized groups. As a country we need to realize our system of government is made by and for a multicultural society whose citizens represent many races, religions, and genders. American people do not fit the cookie-cutter mold.
Here are Oscar predictions for “Blackkklansman” by several major publications and film critics:
Entertainment Weekly “BEST PICTURE”
“Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” is based on a true story is what enables it to pack a punch as a timely reminder of fractured race relations in America back in the 1970s and now.” — Film critic Piya Sinha-Roy
Gold Derby – Predict Hollywood Races
“Could Spike Lee win his first competitive Oscar for “Blackkklansman”? Though he has been making films for more than 30 years and received an Honorary Oscar for his body of work in 2016, he has yet to win a competitive award from the motion picture academy. Perhaps surprisingly, he has never even been nominated for Best Director. His only two bids were Best Original Screenplay for “Do the Right Thing” (1989) and Best Documentary Feature for “4 Little Girls” (1997).” — Film critic Daniel Montgomery
Next Best Picture – Analyzing Blackkklansman’s Oscar Potential
“In the world of award show prognosticating, “Blackkklansman” is the center of the conversation right now. By far, the Oscar frontrunner for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay of all the films released domestically thus far into the year.” Film critic Ryan C. Showers
For more details about “Blackkklansman” and to watch the trailer, visit: http://www.focusfeatures.com/blackkklansman
Photo Credit: David Lee / Focus Features